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#6352735 - 06/30/16 01:28 AM Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy)
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
They say there are two sides to every story, and this one certainly has two sides. One from my and my PH’s point of view as the hunter, and another from by buddy and his PH, who watched the whole hunt unfold from a front row view vantage point. I must give both sides here so that you can get the full appreciation.

Our story starts in our recent June 2016 safari to South Africa. Original plans called for my daughter Hannah to accompany me, but at the last moment she had to cancel plans. There was only one person I thought might be able to make it on such short notice.

So I called up my friend Ron Wood, and after a couple of quick pleasantries on the call, I blurted out “You want to come hunt with me in Africa? The trip is all paid for, even some animals – all you have to do is get an airline ticket!”. I tried to get it all out there quick and sweeten the deal. After about a 5 second hesitation, he responded “I think I can make that work!”.

A few phone calls to Adam Batot and Double Shot Outfitters to clear the new parameters with Rhinoland Safaris in RSA over the next couple of weeks, and quick check on airfare – and in no time it seemed we were checking guns at the Delta counter and boarding the plane.

This was only my second trip to Africa, and Ron’s third – but both of us had used the same outfitter on previous trips. This time we were going to different areas, although still hunting mainly in Limpopo, with a few days in Free State.

Once arriving at Rhinoland near Lephale, our expectations were far exceeded with the accommodations and concession. Limpopo has to be one of my favorite areas in Africa, and the Rhinoland property was lush, large, and diverse. Somewhere north of 30,000 acres, the property has mountains, savannah flats, a river with two dams/lakes, and very, very dense brush.

It also contains a very diverse mix of animals, including Elephant, both White and Black Rhino, Buffalo, Hippo, Giraffe, Leopard and other cats, and plenty of plains game including Sable, Gemsbok, Waterbuck, Impala, Ostrich, Nyala, Bushpig, Warthog, Kudu, Steenbuck, just to name a few - and Bushbuck.

For me, Bushbuck hold a special place in my heart. Maybe because on my first hunt they proved to be the most difficult and challenging to hunt. Maybe it is the element of danger from wounded animals, which have been known to charge frequently. Or maybe because my first two attempts on my previous safari ended in failure before I finally connected. Or maybe it’s because they just look cool.

Whatever the reason, Bushbuck is a species that I know I can hunt over and over. And any future trips to Africa will most likely involve some time searching for them.


Edited by John Humbert (06/30/16 02:19 AM)

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#6352736 - 06/30/16 01:28 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
Now Rhinoland has thousands of animals – but it is not an easy place to hunt. First, there is so much area and thick brush, the animals have lots places to hide and avoid contact. And while we saw many animals each day, it took some real effort by our PH’s and patience to find the gold medal quality animals that both Ron and I were after.

My PH, Petrus “Pete” Liebenberg, was passionate and dedicated – and very knowledgeable. I was indeed fortunate to hunt with him, and enjoyed every minute. I learned a lot from him, and I appreciated the patient way he dealt with me and my questions. Also the fact that we could both hunt together side by side, for hours, with a minimum of chatter. We just clicked after about day and a half.

Our hunt at Rhinoland started with a bang, with Pete putting me on a 43” Sable on our second day, which happened to be my birthday! But then things slowed down a bit as we went several days unable to close the deal on very nice Waterbuck that we had seen repeatedly, but managed to give us the slip for several days. (That’s another story).

Over the next couple of days, I took an Ostrich (just for fun and to eat), and both Ron and I had taken pretty decent Nyala. The Ostrich was a wild hunt, and if I knew what fun and excitement it was – I would have put it on the hit list from the start rather than consider it a “filler”.

By the Monday of our second week, I still had several animals on my “hit list” that were still outstanding. Ron had only taken a big 25” Impala in addition to his Nyala. But Ron, and his PH Rudy, had seen a big Kudu on the east end of the property several days in a row. None of us had even SEEN a bushbuck of any size or sex in the whole trip.

Then things took a very bad turn. It rained, and got very windy. Apparently, even though RSA experienced a drought during their summer – it hard ever rains during the winter, and when it does – it becomes critical for the animals. As tough as they are, they don’t do well being both wet and cold in a strong wind. Everyone was telling us that these conditions often setup a large die-off of animals.

And, unlike Texas, where you can still hunt somewhat in the rain – when it rains in the winter in Limpopo – NOTHING moves. They hunker down in the thickest bush and hunting is all but impossible.

So that Monday, we had our breakfast at 6am and watched the sun peek over the mountains while the rain fell steadily. The PH’s were not very enthusiastic about chances, and already began to temper our expectations.


Edited by John Humbert (06/30/16 02:21 AM)

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#6352737 - 06/30/16 01:29 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
Pete had a real itch for that big Kudu that Ron and Rudy had seen, as we saw it once the prior week too – and he felt it was a 55” Kudu and “I would not regret taking it”, even though I had a smaller 50” from my previous safari. I agreed, provided he was as big as we thought – having no wish to “upgrade” to a 51” or 52” specimen. It had to be 55” or better, or I was going to pass.

We spent the next hour or so scouring the area where he had been seen in previous days. The rain returned and we had to put Joshua, our tracker, off in a blind to be out of the rain. We cover the roads back and forth, working our way east, without seeing much but a couple of Nyala females.

We did run across some tracks that appeared to be a big Kudu, but he was very smart – and kept doubling back on his own tracks. We kept up the search, until we had reached the eastern most boundary of the property, and then we turned the corner onto that perimeter road and there he was! Standing in the roadway about 500-600 yards away.

We stopped, glassed to confirm it was him, and he promptly stepped into the brush. Pete and I jumped out of truck and the hunt was on! Ron and Rudy stayed in the truck, all warm and toasty, and watched through the windshield as Pete and I started our stalk.

Pete led the way along a path that more or less followed the road about 5-10 yards into the brush. With the rain, fresh tracks would be easy to spot. And find them we did right about we had expected, about 500-600 yards down.

We were able to move quietly because of the wet ground and light rain, and I followed Pete’s lead, stepping in his footprints as we followed the track. He HAD to be very close, but we could not see or hear him – although I swear we smelled him once or twice.

This was Africa hunting at it’s best. On foot. Following fresh track. But here’s where it began to get comical. As we followed the track, this Kudu bull was smart, and apparently had a sense of humor. Because as we followed the track it circled around and we found Kudu tracks OVER OUR FOOTPRINTS! We were going around in circles!

Sometimes going back to the road, then back into the brush. Dammit! This Kudu was making us look foolish. Had to be so damn close and we couldn’t see him.

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#6352738 - 06/30/16 01:38 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
Now remember I said there was two sides to this story? Well, here’s the viewpoint from Ron and Rudy back in the truck. They watched us disappear into the brush, at about that time, the Kudu stepped back into the road and watched us. We would follow the track back out to the road, and the Kudu would cut into the brush behind us.

Ron and Rudy said it was so funny, that we looked like Elmer Fudd hunting “wabbits” as we carefully stepped along following tracks gun in hand, and the Kudu circling around behind us each time. They said this happened 4 or 5 times, and at one point the Kudu stepped out a mere 80 yards in front of the truck.

After we had circled back over ourselves three times, we found ourselves back to the road. I looked down another 400-500 yards and another animal had stepped out. I asked Pete what it was, and he responded “It’s a bushbuck!”.

“No [censored]!?”, I whispered. “Yup” was all he responded. Then a SECOND bushbuck stepped out, and Pete said “He’s a good one”. These were the only two bushbuck anyone had seen all week.

So we switched to “Plan B” and started further down the road stalking the bushbuck. When we had gone about 200 yards, a nice Nyala stepped out right in front of us – forcing us to freeze.

What we didn’t know at the time, was that damn Kudu had stepped out onto the road again behind us, between us and the truck – and was watching us. While Ron and Rudy laughed their butts off back in the truck.

The Nyala and the bushbuck all disappeared back into the brush, and we continued down to a point close to where we had seen the bushbuck initially. But nothing. Pete set the sticks up, and we waited a bit – but both of us figured everything was long gone.

Then, quite suddenly, the larger of the two bushbuck stepped out onto the road around 80-90 yards away from where we were standing. Pete whispered, “Take him, take him NOW”. The .375 came up on the sticks, and I put the firedot smack on the bushbuck and less than a second later the Big Dog barked and the bushbuck jumped and took a hard hit and limped into the bush.

I was elated! I got my bushbuck! We quickly closed the gap to where he was shot and found him neatly piled up just a few steps in. And he was a nice one!

Pete motioned for the truck, and Ron and Rudy drove down to meet us and there was high-fives all around. They excitedly told us all that they had witness and we were all laughing like little kids.

We took a few pics there, but Pete wanted to take better pics around the corner where the ground was higher, maybe a bit drier, and he could get better background. So we did, and hurriedly took some pics as the rain returned in force.

We radioed back for the trackers to come pic up the animal, and we all dove back into truck to escape the pouring rain. Rudy drove us back around to the spot where we had first seen the Kudu – and would you believe it! He was back in almost the same spot, then dove back into the brush.

Rudy said he thought that Kudu was going to the same thing, and double back TOWARDS us - so told Pete and I to get in the high rack, and he was going to inch us further down the road a 100-150 yards and just stop.

We waited about 3 minutes, and sure enough – we saw the Kudu working back toward us on the edge of the road/bush. He stuck his head out for a quick look, then went back into the bush.

Pete said, “Steady. He’ll come out again – and then take him”. His words were still hanging in the air when the Kudu re-appeared, about 50 yards closer. He stood on the side of the road, facing directly at us at about 220 yards.

“It’ll have to be a brisket shot”, I said. Pete said, “Are you comfortable making that shot?”. I said, “Yes, but it would be the farthest shot I’ve made with this .375”.

“OK”, he said, “then maybe wait”. But I knew I would take any shot offered.

Just then the Kudu, for some reason, took one more step sideways into the road, offering a better quartering shot.

The Big Dog barked again, and I could see the Kudu stagger back a step – then sprint into the bushveld. Then we heard a crash in the brush.

Ron and Rudy were again watching the whole thing right in front of them through the windshield. Rudy indicated he thought he saw the Kudu go down right off the road, and he was right.

As we drove up the 200 yards, the Kudu was down not more than 10 yards – and he was beautiful! He was right at 55” and had perfect curls! He was, however, very old and was obviously in decline, as evident from his body mass. So it was the right decision to take him.

It was less than 45 minutes from when I pulled the trigger on the Bushbuck til when I pulled the trigger on the Kudu. Two beautiful animals, so close in time and distance – in the pouring rain.

Ron summed it up back at the lodge by saying, “It was the worst of days. It was the best of days”. I just said, “Good thing we did Plan B”.

[img]http://texashuntingforum.com/forum/pics/...5_6336977658950[/img]
[img]http://texashuntingforum.com/forum/pics/...4_5740564406533[/img]
[img]http://texashuntingforum.com/forum/pics/...7_1957527721672[/img]
[img]http://texashuntingforum.com/forum/pics/...3_6703015429244[/img]

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#6352739 - 06/30/16 01:43 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Online   content
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Edited by John Humbert (06/30/16 01:50 AM)

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#6352740 - 06/30/16 01:46 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620

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#6352830 - 06/30/16 07:15 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
kdkane1971 Online   content
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Registered: 01/30/14
Posts: 1792
Loc: Mesopotamia
Very nice animals animals, John, and superb write-up. Thank you very much for sharing your story, it was truly a pleasurable read. The trip to Africa certainly explains why we haven't seen more of you around these parts. Welcome back, sir.

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#6352885 - 06/30/16 08:09 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: kdkane1971]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
I've been some kind of sick since my return two weeks ago. And no, it's not marlaria or tick fever -but it's been kicking my butt just the same.

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#6352893 - 06/30/16 08:21 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
kdkane1971 Online   content
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Registered: 01/30/14
Posts: 1792
Loc: Mesopotamia
^ Hope you didn't fall in love with one of those bush lovelies while you were there!

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#6353003 - 06/30/16 09:27 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
linyera Offline
Tracker

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 830
Loc: Argentina
awesome !!! congrats !! nice sable !!!
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#6353058 - 06/30/16 10:04 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: kdkane1971]
John Humbert Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1620
You mean like this cutie?






Edited by John Humbert (06/30/16 11:15 PM)

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#6355586 - 07/02/16 11:02 AM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
Kingsview Safaris Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 02/01/16
Posts: 102
Loc: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Very nice! Congratulations. up
_________________________
Jono and Justine McHugh
Eastern Cape, South Africa
www.kingsviewsafaris.co.za

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#6360802 - 07/06/16 11:06 PM Re: Plan B Bushbuck - (Long Post in parts, pic heavy) [Re: John Humbert]
HCH Outfitter Online   content
Woodsman

Registered: 11/29/15
Posts: 107
Loc: Texas
Great story John... You're a talented writer with a great sense of humor! Hope you get to feeling better real soon! I'd love to see your Wall of Fame when you get your taxi back! Congrats on a great trip and thanks for sharing with us!
Diane
_________________________
HCH Outfitter
281-723-9989
Diane@AguaVidaRanch.com
Hunt Coordinator Agua Vida Ranch

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